Lindsay Boyd

"I want to live". It's a simple saying, but it embodies the hopes, fears, dreams, and very vitality of us all. Many of us take our lives for granted. How many people watched the ball drop and made a new year's resolution to live? Of course not. We know we can't control that. Instead, we'll promise ourselves that we'll eat fewer twinkies and only drink light beer. However, as we celebrated the dropping of the ball in New York City, we should mourn the dropping of another. One incredible woman, who's story gripped our nation, won't be here to determine what her new year's resolution will be. We held her life in our hands...and we dropped the ball.

"Fighting for Dear Life", by Attorney David Gibbs, details the heartbreaking battle to save the life of Terri Schiavo. Gibbs, who represented Bob and Mary Schindler (Terri's parents), exhausted all legal avenues to preserve Terri's life. He became very close with the Schindler family, but he also became close with Terri. When he agreed to represent the Schindler family, and met Terri for the first time in 2004, Gibbs claims that he expected a much different scene than the one that unfolded before him. He was brought into Terri's room, expecting to see tubes and monitors hooked to an almost lifeless body, but instead he was greeted by a smiling, "peachy" girl sitting in a chair by the window...without tubes or monitors, and seemingly full of life.

Gibbs became a familiar face in Terri's room and quickly realized that Terri was much different from the image portrayed to the American public. She smiled and cringed when her father gave her a hug and tickled her face with his whiskers. She squealed with delight at the sound of her mother's voice and cried when her mother left. Hardly the reactions of a vegetable. What's more impressive was the visible drive within Terri to communicate with her family. She begin working on speaking with her mother, but had trouble with consonants.

Why did we not see this side of Terri? Gibbs explains that the very people deciding whether Terri would live or die never met Terri themselves. They never saw her smile, laugh, cry, or speak. In a chilling excerpt from Gibbs' "Fighting for Dear Life", he reveals a haunting phone call from Terri's room, made by Barbara Weller, Mr. Gibbs' assistant:

"David, you've got to hear this..."

"Not long after you left, I went to Terri's chair and..."

"I leaned over and took Terri's arms in both my hands and said to her, 'Terri, if you could only say ''I want to live'', this whole thing could be over today.'"

"Terri's eyes opened real wide. She looked at me square in the face. She had this look of intense concentration..."

Lindsay Boyd

Lindsay Boyd is the Director of Policy at the Beacon Center in Tennessee.